Wednesday, 02 October 2019 17:05

Commissioners updated on Richmond Community College cyber attack, courses, construction

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Dr. Dale McInnis, president of Richmond Community College, updates the Richmond County Board of Commissioners Tuesday evening. Dr. Dale McInnis, president of Richmond Community College, updates the Richmond County Board of Commissioners Tuesday evening. Chuck Thames - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — “We’ve not only fully recovered but we’re stronger and better technically than we were before” said Dr. Dale McInnis, president of Richmond Community College concerning the recent cyber attack at the local campus.


McInnis updated the Richmond County Board of Commissioners on the July 19 attack as part of his fall update Tuesday night. 

In response to the attack, he said enhancements were made to site cyber security through network infrastructure, anti-malware devices/services and through the migration to Amazon Web Services. 

“All computers are now operating on One Drive so there are no file storage issues,” said McInnis.

Fortunately, he said, no employee or student data was corrupted or breached as a result of the attack.

McInnis mentioned that the same attack affected the Georgia State Highway Patrol and the governor of Louisiana was forced to declare a state of emergency due to a similar attack on his state.

While it was a challenging time — through six weeks of hard work and support from state agencies, the community college system, the State Bureau of Investigation and the National Guard — McInnis said the college has emerged better prepared to avoid such attacks in the future.

“I’m happy to report our team pulled together and we’re better and stronger than before,” said McInnis.

In other updates, McInnis noted that he and his staff are emphasizing credentials as they work with local and regional employers to better understand what is needed in today’s labor market.

McInnis touted the successful Electrical Lineman program, recently initiated as a way to “optimize the students’ time and money by getting them to complete a rigorous and in-depth condensed program in just 10 weeks.” 

“The results have been amazing,” he said.

All graduates have been receiving job offers and the completion rate is very high. At other schools, this program is run as a two-year degree.

McInnis said as early as the year 2023, the state will begin requiring all paramedics to have a two-year degree. As another example of the college’s innovation, next fall, the college will begin offering a two-year EMS degree. 

“We’re trying to be nimble and agile, said McInnis.

This month, RCC began a CDL program through a partnership with Caldwell Community College. 

“This is another example of being able to do high-quality programs in a condensed, short period of time so people can see the light at the end of the tunnel and have high demand, high-salary jobs in the near future,” he said.

The college and Richmond County Schools recently partnered for a new career planning program, where a college employee is housed on site at Richmond Senior High School and works with students from the 10th grade and beyond.

The goal of this program, according to McInnis, is for students to have a written career plan “whether they want to be a pediatrician or a welder.” 

With this program, students will know what credentials, education, and experience is needed to reach their goal. The plan is for students to have this plan in place before they leave for Christmas break during their senior year.

Another new partnership has been developed between Richmond Community College and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. C-Step is a dual enrollment between RCC and UNC-Chapel Hill and allows students to take their first two years of college at RCC. Students are considered part of the UNC family while attending RCC and if the student completes the requirements and maintains at 3.2 GPA, they are guaranteed admission to UNC-Chapel Hill upon completion of their sophomore year. 

A similar program is being discussed with N.C. State University but current requirements are for the school to be within 60 miles of Raleigh. McInnis sounded hopeful that this restriction could be eliminated in the future.

In his closing remarks, McInnis noted that the on-campus construction projects, including a new cafe and a student and career center, are currently running ahead of schedule.